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Windows 9

Windows 9. Fingers crossed its not just Windows 8 with a shiny new name.

Speaking as an IT person that supports both business and home users, Windows 8 was too radical a move, and was released far too early on an unsuspecting public. The fact that users, that were familiar with previous operating systems, were severely crippled when faced with the Windows 8 concept, i.e. Metro, should have raised red flags all over the place while it was still in Beta testing, and should have been fixed long before it was released to the public. Most of the advocates for Windows 8 will say, "Oh come on, all you have to do is download a start button replacement from some third party provider, and hey presto, your Windows 8 computer starts to behave a bit like Windows 7 used to", I say, "Well, no... If I have to download and install a third party component, no matter how simple this process is, It should have been done by the manufacturer, not by me." Imagine being told by the Ferrari dealer that all you have to do, now that you have bought your new car, is go to a third party vendor and get 4 wheels and put them on and then it will work similar to your old car. I don't buy that, and you shouldn't either.

The problem with Windows 8, and I am including its various iterations, is it is trying to do exactly what it was meant to do, what it was designed to do. That is, it is trying to be the same operating system, no matter whether you are using a phone, tablet, net book, laptop, desktop or server system. This is all well and good in theory, but, and this is where the "released too early" bit comes in. It possibly could have served all of these systems, and probably can still, if only the developers had put more time into the install process to set up the computer according to its primary use. Setting up a mobile phone or tablet? default all programs to metro and have the metro start screen as your default desktop. Mobile and tablet users would have been happy. Setting up a desktop computer? Set it up like Windows 7, start menu and all. I guarantee that businesses that wanted to migrate their XP machines, would have migrated them to Windows 8, which is exactly what they are not doing right now. Right now, businesses are migrating to Windows 7 and avoiding Win 8 like the plague.

There is no point in allowing a mobile phone user to be able to use desktop application as targets like "File" and "edit" and even clicking "OK" or "Cancel" are too small to accurately pinpoint. Using a program like Microsoft Excel on a tablet brings all sorts of issues to the table, like simply trying to select one particular cell with your finger. More hit and miss than anything. If I actually want to put something into a cell, like a formula, I have to bring up the "on screen keyboard" which then covers up the cells that I want to reference, which now means that I have to commit the reference cells to memory, or go through a really slow and painful process of showing the keyboard, making 1 or 2 keystrokes, hiding the keyboard selecting the particular cell, showing the keyboard again, etc, etc, etc. If this is meant to be productive and eventually replace computers, I'll eat my hat. These type of applications are best left to desktops, laptops and even net books, in fact any device that uses a mouse as a pointer, not your finger.

There is no point in forcing desktop users to use their mouse to pinpoint Metro tiles, which are 4 to 8 times larger than their usual desktop icons. These targets are better designed for stabbing, poking, swiping and dragging with your fingers, and should only be used on small screen devices where the is no mouse.

What's my hope for Windows 9?

What I would like to see happen in Windows 9 is this.

  1. I would like the operating system to suit the environment to which it is being installed. If this means putting a desktop install and a tablet install on the 1 DVD then fine. If it means providing 2 separate DVD' s then fine again.
  2. Remove Metro apps from desktop environments. There are more than enough desktop applications and tools to provide great functionality as proved in Windows 7, give these the benefits and security of Windows 8.
  3. Develop metro apps specifically to run on smaller screens the same as Apple and Android have done. These would need to have larger and fewer icons and tools, and perhaps only have rudimentary functions of their desktop counterparts.
  4. Documents created or edited on a tablet or phone device should be able to be opened and edited by their desktop counterparts seamlessly and vice versa.

If this happens, then all devices can share the same underlying operating system core, it's only the outer shell that looks and behaves differently according to the hardware it is installed onto. I see this as the way of unifying the entire computing ecosystem and would, I believe put Microsoft back into a dominant position in the market in the future.

Here's hoping, but I'm not holding my breath.



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